Hancock Review

Hancock is a 2008 superhero comedy drama film directed by Peter Berg, starring Will Smith, Jason Bateman, Charlize Theron, Eddie Marsan, and Jae Head.  Hancock is a superhero whose ill considered behavior regularly causes damage in the millions. He changes when the person he saves helps him improve his public image.


Positives:

  • Great performances
  • Bateman, Theron, and Smith are awesome
  • Good action sequences
  • Great use of special effects
  • Good score
  • Really good story
  • Good writing
  • Witty dialogue

Negatives:

  • Lackluster antagonist

Plot:  It tells the story of a vigilante superhero, John Hancock (Smith) from Los Angeles whose reckless actions routinely cost the city millions of dollars. Eventually one person he saves, Ray Embrey (Bateman), makes it his mission to change Hancock’s public image for the better. It is not the typical superhero story as our main character isn’t perfect, he’s not the ideal of superhero.  Hancock is a lonely, drunk who’s seen as a public menace.  One of the best aspects of the story is just how relatable the story is.  Hancock, is lonely and wants to be acknowledged although his methods and attitude make him distance others.  But the story is about growth, acceptance, and taking responsibility and in that Hancock does grow.  There is this subplot where Hancock develops a nemesis named Red and as cool an idea as it is it doesn’t feel relevant. (4 out of 5)

Characters:  The main character of the film is John Hancock (Will Smith), a superhero whose attitude and reckless actions have caused him to be looked down upon despite his good intentions. Hancock is rough around the edges but he does have a good heart.  One day Hancock saves the life of a public relations consultant Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman). Ray is a great character because he sees the good in people, and this is seen with his relationship with Hancock. He’s likable, friendly, and pretty damn smart.  There is Mary Embrey (Charlize Theron), who’s Ray’s wife and unbeknownst to the two is also Hancock’s ex-wife with the same abilities as him.  She’s got likable characteristics as well.  It’s understandable why she lives the life that she does and it’s easy to see the chemistry between her and Ray. Ray’s son, Aaron (Jae Head), is also one of the best characters.  Along with Ray, Aaron develops a relationship with Hancock that ultimately influences him for the better.  The one character that is probably the weakest character and this is the main antagonist, Kenneth “Red” Parker, Jr. (Eddie Marsan), the bank robber and later on nemesis of Hancock.  Sure, he shows some smarts but he isn’t really given much to do.  He has the bank robber scene and the final assault at the end and that’s it.  It would’ve been nice to see him do something a little bigger, more standout.  He doesn’t feel as relevant as he could’ve been. (4 out of 5)

Cast: The casting and performances are just topnotch.  Great performances by Will Smith, Jason Bateman, and Charlize Theron.  Smith and Bateman have great chemistry together and it is pleasant seeing these two onscreen where the humor between the two is at its finest. Jae Head was good and not annoying, really liked his presence.  Eddie Marsan is great, but I feel that he doesn’t get the same onscreen opportunity like the rest of the character.  The main cast also includes Akiva Goldsman, Michael Mann, Johnny Galecki, Daeg Faerch, David Mattey, Maetrix Fitten, Darrell Foster, Liz Wicker, and Thomas Lennon.  Cameo appearances include Nancy Grace and Mike Epps. (5 out of 5)

Visuals:  Visually the movie looks great, especially the special effects.  They do a great job with the motion capture effects and attention to detail.  The action sequences are pretty intense, and do a great job of showcasing Hancock’s abilities.  One of the best sequences shot is the beginning flight sequence with a drunken Hancock pursuing a group of criminals.  There’s another sequence where Hancock is dragging a car and it looks great. There is the great mixture of CGI and practical that should be highly appreciated. One of the least effective sequences is the fight between Hancock and Mary that relies a little too much on the CGI rather than the practical. (4 out of 5)

Score: The musical composition of the film is done extremely well.  John Powell is just great and I like the heroic themes he presents. (4 out of 5)

Writing: Loved the direction the film takes and it’s all thanks to Peter Berg.  He does a great job of not making this just a superhero movie but also a personal journey.  The writing is done really well and should be appreciated.  There is some great witty dialogue, especially the banter between Hancock and Ray and it’s also thanks to the Smith and Bateman’s execution.  There is a good bit of balance when it comes to the drama, action, and humor that doesn’t feel intrusive or cheesy.  The writing surrounding Hancock, what he is, his powers, and his past is actually some damn clever writing and I would love to see more of it.  There are some great, memorable sequences that are done really well. But there are some sequences that could’ve been better.  Particularly the Hancock versus Mary fight where they summon tornadoes and collateral damage. It was a great sequence just didn’t seem to have anything at stake.  Despite this, the writing is done well enough to establish a pretty deep movie. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Hancock is actually a pretty solid superhero film that introduces something fresh to the genre.  Despite the lackluster and forgettable antagonist, the film does feature topnotch performances, a great cast, likable characters, great action, a great premise, good writing, lots of humor, great visuals, and a great score.  Hancock gets 4 out of 5.

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